Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Voodoo Bones by Melanie Atkins

TITLE: Voodoo Bones
AUTHOR: Melanie Atkins
PUBLISHER: Cobblestone Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 26k)
GENRE: Romantic suspense
COST: $4.99

Detective Matt Bergeron thinks he arrested the Bayou Ripper – until a new body shows up two days later in an apartment over the shop, Vous Deux. The owner, Noel Galliano, is shaken by the horrifying crime scene, but takes strength from Matt, in a connection that surprises both of them. It’s up to Matt to figure out what’s going on, whether he arrested the right man or not, before another body shows up. Especially since that body just might be Noel’s…

There’s some gorgeous writing at the top of this story, moody and evocative as we are drawn into Matt’s first crime scene of the night. It’s enough to thrust me into the setting with both hands, and stands guard to refuse to let me go. I was really excited by this as the beginning unfolded. The author isn’t afraid to hold back on detail on a gruesome crime, yet doesn’t go so far to be pure titillation. But the vivid opening fades with the introduction of the hero, and within a chapter or two, the novella settles down in a too predictable romantic suspense story that I’ve read too many times before.

It took me a long time to warm to Noel, and I’m not sure I ever really did. Her shock at the crime scene in her building translates into belligerence with everyone who isn’t Matt. She’s even rude and unwelcoming to her best friend the next day. It doesn’t help that Matt is painted as a cowboy in the police department, with few friends and far more enemies. People just don’t like these two, and for the first half of the story, I understand why because I’m right there with them. Gradually, Matt manages to show me that he’s just misunderstood, but my opinion was set for far too long to make me warm to any kind of romance between them.

As far as the plot goes, there’s little surprise in the supposed surprise ending. The action is built nicely as it progresses, but the entire climax of the story is rushed, leaving little sense of satisfaction in the end. Same goes for the romance. I didn’t buy it for a second.

However, I wonder if some of the problems in this stem from the story’s brevity. There’s real promise in the descriptive passages here. I think I might have to check out her backlist and see if she’s written anything longer.


8/10 – Some very evocative writing gets marred by predictability and rushed plotting


6/10 – Borders on obnoxious know-it-all in the beginning, though smoothes out as the story progresses


5/10 – Belligerent without really knowing why, it’s hard to like her

Entertainment value

5/10 – Nice prose can’t save a predictable plot and an unbelievable romance

World building

7/10 – There’s shades of real beauty here, but it gets overwhelmed by the flaws in the story



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